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NASA pays tribute to Neil Armstrong at National Cathedral

NASA paid tribute to former NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong Thursday with a memorial service at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., according to a space agency report. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Mr. Armstrong’s Apollo crewmates and John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, were in attendance at the memorial service.

“Neil will always be remembered for taking humankind’s first small step on another world,” said Mr. Bolden. “But it was the courage, grace and humility he displayed throughout his life that lifted him above the stars.”

Mr. Armstrong, a space legend, passed away in August at the age of 82. He passed away from complications due to heart surgery. The former U.S. Navy pilot made two trips two space. One in 1966 as commander of the Gemini 8 mission and a second in 1969 during which Mr. Armstrong became the first man to walk on a surface other than Earth’s.

“Neil Armstrong left more than footprints and a flag on the moon,” Mr. Bolden said. “He left a foundation for the future and paved the way for future American explorers to be the first to step foot on Mars or another planet.”

When Mr. Armstrong stepped on the moon on July 20, 1969, he spoke words that will forever be a part of the American lexicon: “That is one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Although he could have used his fame for his own benefit, speakers at Thursday’s memorial service acknowledged Mr. Armstrong’s humble nature.

“In Neil’s mind, it was never about Neil,” said Apollo 17 Commander Gene Cernan. “It was about you, your mothers and fathers, your grandparents, those of an earlier generation, who gave him the opportunity to walk on the moon … He always gave credit to those who just didn’t know it couldn’t be done.”

According to NASA, the National Cathedral was also used as the location of a memorial service for the crew of Space Shuttle Columbia.